Switched at Birth star Blair Redford was the very first actor cast in the pilot for the X-Men TV series now known as Gifted. At the time, Marvel Television and Fox would only say that Redford was playing a character referred to as “Sam” who was Native American and who leads the underground mutant resistance.
From the very beginning, some fans believed that “Sam” was just a codename being used to cover up who Redford was really playing. It turns out they may be true. Gifted star Natalie Alyn Lind shared a photo from the set of Gifted that shows photos of the pilot’s primary cast with their characters’ names. Redford’s is among them, and his photo is labeled “Thunderbird.”
There have been a handful of Marvel Characters who have gone by the name Thunderbird, but the most prominent would be John Proudstar, an Apache who was recruited by Professor X into the “Second Genesis” of the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1. As Thunderbird, John Proudstar stood alongside Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Banshee, Sunspot, and Cyclops on a mission to rescue the other original X-Men from Krakoa, the living island.
Thunderbird remained a part of the team after the original mission was over, but he did not survive the next mission. In just his third issue of existence, Thunderbird died while stopping the supervillain Count Nefaria.
Thunderbird’s mutant powers granted him peak physical abilities, including enhanced strength, speed, durability, stamina, and superhuman senses.
It is unclear why Fox and Marvel did not want to reveal Thunderbird’s identity. Perhaps Sam was just a codename, or if they’ve changed Thunderbird’s actual name to Sam. Fans will have to wait and see.
Thunderbird could also refer to James Proudstar, John’s brother. James originally took on his brother’s X-Men persona to seek revenge on Professor X, whom he blamed for John’s death. James later reformed, came to terms with his brother’s death, changed his name codename to Warpath and has become a member of the New Mutants, X-Force, and the X-Men. Warpath’s powers are similar to Thunderbird’s. The character was played by Booboo Stewart in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The third Thunderbird was Neal Shaara, an Indian mutant with no ties to the Proudstars. He joined the X-Men in 2000 and has the mutant power of pyrokinesis.
Gifted is on the cusp of entering production and was developed by Matt Nix, who wrote the pilot episode. X-Men movies veteran Bryan Singer will direct. Nix and Singer, along with Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Jim Chory, and Jeph Loeb will all serve as executive producers. The pilot stars Redford, Stephen Moyer, Amy Acker, Jamie Chung, Sean Teale, Natalie Alyn Lind, Emma Dumont, Percy Hynes White, Coby Bell, and Joseph Morgan.